Somehow Lorne and I, neither of us being sufferers of allergies beyond the very mild seasonal allergies that I sometimes suffer from, have managed to birth a child who is allergic to everything. Not only does she have her peanut and tree nut allergy but she also has pretty bad indoor and outdoor allergies. She is even now, apparently, allergic to our cats. There is a family history of allergies, including pet allergies, on Lorne’s side of the family. Both his brothers suffer from indoor and outdoor allergies, including pet allergies. So, it’s in her genes, but man, I was not expecting this. It breaks my cat loving heart to have a child who is allergic to cats.
The pet allergies appeared when we got back from Australia. Maya has always suffered from mild nasal congestion all year long as a result of allergies but has never shown signs of being any worse around our cats. When we got back from Australia it quickly became obvious that she was allergic to the cats. Every time she touched them, particularly if she was hugging them or kissing them, she would break out in hives on the areas of her skin that had contacted the cats. One day her eye practically swelled shut as a result of 5 hives developing below her eye after a particularly close encounter with our cat Lily. After talking with her allergist it was determined that we had basically skin tested her and she is indeed allergic to pet dander, oh joy. She is already on Zyrtec and his recommendation was to keep her on that and since she doesn’t have any asthmatic symptoms he wouldn’t recommend any other medications at this time. He doesn’t believe in over medicating if it can be avoided. We considered skin testing her, but really it isn’t necessary to put her through that since we know what she is allergic to and won’t really glean any new information from the tests. So, we decided to hold off for now.
So then it was on us to decide what to do. Getting rid of the cats is not an option at this point. Not only are they part of our family and 13 and 12 years old, but Maya is very intensely attached to them. She loves her kitties dearly and taking them away from her, especially right now with all the other changes on the horizon, just isn’t something I want to do. Since her allergies, when controlled with Zyrtec, are mild and she will likely stop getting hives as her body re-desensitizes (totally made that word up!) to being exposed to the cats the allergist and her pediatrician are not saying we have to get rid of them at this time. The idea is to treat her allergy symptoms with Zyrtec and do a few things around the house to help reduce the amount of pet dander she is exposed to. A few things we are doing, or plan on doing are:
- Purchase allergy reducing mattress covers, pillows and pillow covers for her bed.
- Keep the door closed to her room at all times and make it a cat free environment.
- Wash her bedding more often.
- Invest in an air purifier for her room.
- Purchase the best air filter we can get for our furnace.
- Keep the vents in her room closed whenever possible, and place an allergy barrier on the vent for those times when it needs to be open. We’ll also put allergy barriers on the vents in the other rooms too.
- Bathe the cats more often, likely once a week, with dander reducing shampoo.
- Brush them more regularly, our vet and the allergist both recommend daily in a room that Maya does not frequent (we’ll probably do it downstairs in the basement).
- Use baby wipes on them every day to help reduce the amount of dander coming off them and settling on the furniture.
- Vacuum and dust more often, especially the furniture.
- Try to keep Maya from spending too much time cuddling the cats and make her wash her hands after she has pet them (this one will be a challenge).
My hope is that all the above will work to help manage her allergies and we won’t have to confront the possibility of getting rid of the cats. It isn’t something I want to do since I love them dearly, and I know Maya would be devastated.
I was talking to her pediatrician today about her allergies and she mentioned that some children completely grow out of allergies as they get older, or they develop much milder reactions. I’ve got my fingers crossed that she falls into one of those categories.
Do you or your children suffer from allergies, particularly pet allergies? How do you manage them? Any tips or tricks you have for me would be greatly appreciated.